February 24, 2010 | Karin's Blog | 14 comments

 As promised.  Heeeeeerz, MJ!

Thanks, Karin, for letting me guest today, and to tell you about the marketing strategy for my book, THE SHOP.

I did everything I was supposed to do. I wrote the book of my life. I got a terrific, rocket-fueled agent.  As with previous books, I trusted that would be enough, but realized early on that the publishing industry has changed, and not for the better.  If I didn’t do something to add value to my book, it might never be published. 

So my hubby and I came up with a plan.  At the beginning of my thriller, THE SHOP, six people are killed in a house in Aspen, Colorado, including rising country and pop star Brienne Cross.  The book itself does not explore the lives of Brienne Cross and the people with her—-not as much as I’d like.  So I built a website around Brienne Cross and the final four contestants on her reality show, and captured their lives through features (Someday We Will Know the Truth), articles (Inside the “Soul Mate” Reality Show), blogs, and even blog comments.

An only child, I used to role-play with myself. One minute I was the swash-buckling sailor, the next, the beautiful maiden.  It went like this:  “Dost thou know how much I love thee?”  “I do, sir.”  Now, all these years later I am role-playing again, commenting on my own blog to build the aura of reality around Brienne Cross’s life and death.  I’ve argued with myself, insulted  myself, and agreed with myself.  Some friends have pitched in, and we’ve had a whale of a good time.

I got help along the way. A friend told me about a “Demand It” button that musicians use to find out if people want them to come to their town. The movie “Paranormal Activity,” made for $11,884 dollars, was marketed this way.  If enough people Demanded the film, it would show in their town.  The “Demand It” button does ask you for a minimal amount of information, but they do not sell the info, and it’s just so The Demanders will be kept informed about the band or movie—or in this case, book.  

So I put a “Demand It” button on my website. I’m hoping you will push it.

If I get a ton of demands, it translates into a readymade readership. Publishers love a sure thing.

Okay, end of sales pitch. 

As happy as I am with the site “Who Killed Brienne Cross?” I believe I need to go one louder.  This is a big project—-the first of its kind that I know of—-so it morphs as it goes along. I want it to be interactive. And I could use some help brainstorming. 

One idea is to have a poll every week. Who Killed Brienne Cross? Or, did Brienne have plastic surgery?  (Before and After photos.)

I’d like to sprinkle clues across the four sites (yes, there are four sites: www.briennecross.net, www.briennecross.com, www.celebritymurders.net, and the Mother Ship, www.whokilledbriennecross.com.) I don’t want to get too complicated. But I would like it to be fun, and there would be prizes. I’d like to make it part mystery and part scavenger hunt, with tiny icons marking the clues.

As you can see, this aspect of the project is still in its infancy.

I’d love it if you’d go to www.whokilledbriennecross.com, look around, maybe argue with me, and then Demand It.

And any ideas are greatly appreciated!    


M.J. (Maggy)


  1. Edie

    What a fun idea! Very unique. It does seem that writers have to be proactive to build a buzz about their books. Good for you! I’ll check out your sites.

  2. MJ Hawk

    Thanks, Edie!

  3. virna

    What a cool idea, MJ! I had a similar situation and looked into sending out a survey to build a list of potential readers. The demand button would be perfect for this!

  4. Deborah J Ledford

    This is such an EXCELLENT idea, MJ. I’ve “demanded” it and will continue to spread the word about your brainstorm

  5. MJ Hawk

    Virna – that’s so cool! It’s been a lot of fun developing this. One thing, it’s kept me writing.

  6. Carol Luce

    Wow, what an ambitious endeavor, and fun! Good luck, MJ. I hit the Demand it button and it was painless. Can’t wait for the scavenger hunt.

  7. MJ Hawk

    Thanks, Carol. How’s the book going?

  8. Laura McCann

    Very interesting!! totally next level!

  9. MJ Hawk

    Deborah, thank you for your support. I’m afraid innovation is the name of the game these days, to get above the chatter.

  10. Jill James

    MJ, what a media queen you are. I love the website and the Demand It button. I used it and added the icon thingy to my Facebook.

  11. MJ Hawk

    Thanks, Jill! It’s been a lot of fun. Now I’ve got to think about Who Killed Brienne Cross Mach II!

    Any ideas gratefully appreciated.

  12. Cele

    Scavenger hunt? wow, too kewl.

    The lengths an author has to go these days is amazing, but I love the readers’ hands on approach to the whole concept. It is cool when an author reaches out to her readers. Thank MJ.

    Chilly has a new book in the works? Way kewl.

  13. MJ Hawk

    Thanks, Karin, for having me over – it was a lot of fun.


  14. MJ Hawk

    Hey, Cele! Thanks for the boost.

    Having a great time with the blogs—especially at http://www.celebritymurders.net

    The guy who runs the site is a real glory hog. He really loves himself.

    Got a sneak peek at Chilly’s book—and it is awesome!

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